EL PASO, Texas — Every semester we hear from our teachers as well as guest speakers that internships are vital if you ever want to land a job.
Most companies will not hire anyone unless they have some kind of previous experience. As journalism students, we have chosen a career that can be very tough to break into. To make it in this business you have to stand out. You prepare yourself to be the best, to be ready to for the better job opportunity down the road.
This is why as students of journalism, it is important to get yourself out there and get the experience you need so you can put that degree you worked so hard on for during four years to proper use once you graduate. You hear so often from people who have already graduated that the reason they can’t find a job is because they did not have any experience in their field.
A college degree can only take you so far these days.
An internship, though, does not necessarily mean you go into an organization for the summer and the director automatically gives you assignments. As an intern you need to fully engage in the company you are interning for. That means be open to any task — running around and delivering different things to different people, learning how to do different things by shadowing someone who already works there, and by doing production and writing exercises.
When I first started my internship at a local TV news station, I was told by the News Director that my internship was going to be what I made of it. I could learn as much as I wanted and fully experience everything that working for a news station has to offer or I could just do the basics during my internship and really not learn anything.
After hearing those words I knew I had to get myself out there and make the most of my opportunity, because this experience could be invaluable towards working as a member of the media one day, which has always been my goal. I did not want to let this time pass me by, but I was not sure how to assert myself in the proper manner so I could really take in everything that the TV station had to offer.
Instead of going through another internship in which I mainly did the chores or duties that a 4th grader could do blindfolded, I decided that I needed to start becoming more assertive, making myself openly available to do anything that was asked, start asking questions and learning the essentials to becoming a good sports reporter.
When I first started my internship at the news station I tried making conversation and being friendly to everyone because I knew that they would be able to help me learn the things I wanted to learn. While I did start out doing the things that were not as fun, I knew I had to be a team player, showing everyone around me that I could be depended on.
From experience I can tell you that the key to any relationship is trust. If someone trusts you enough to take time out of their busy work schedule to show you how to do things, it shows that you have developed a relationship with that person and they know they can rely on you whenever need may be. Being trusted to complete a certain task means you have been given a chance and they believe you will complete the task just as it would if they were the ones doing the job themselves.
You also can’t be afraid to ask questions when you are at your internship. You have to know when and when not you can ask certain questions. But unless you ask questions you will not get answers, and if you do not get answers you will never learn anything that can help you later.
I have been on both sides of the ball. Sometimes I have been able to ask questions without hesitation and other times I have been too scared to ask how to do something because I felt like I was burdening or did not want to bombard that person with questions.
My advice would be that you just have to know when you can ask questions. If someone is busy or does not have time to answer your questions just come back at a later time, or ask someone else if at all possible. More often than not you will always get your questions answered.
Just do not get discouraged if you do not get the answers you were looking for. Look at it as an attempt made on your part to better improve your ability to one day work as a member of the media. As journalists, our job is to ask the appropriate questions so we can get the right information for our story. If we do not ask questions, we will not receive any answers, eliminating the chance to have a good story.
Every great journalist, reporter and anchor started out like we are today. They took the courses to help improve their talents, but it was working in internships, in that real work setting where they learned what being a journalist is all about.
Having the opportunity to complete an internship will give you the experience you need to one day fulfill your dreams. Media members before us were given the chances they needed to succeed and it helped them become who they are today. By making the most out of our internships, it gives us aspiring journalists a greater probability of becoming just like those people in our profession we look up to and hope to become one day.